|Jennifer Sylvester, Bonnie Jane Maracle, Keren Rice: Photo By Christine Smith McFarlane|
She Talks: Answering the Truth and Reconciliations Calls to Action:
Toronto- SHE TALKS: Answering the TRC’s Calls to Action was a panel presented by the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education’s Equity Movement, the Indigenous Education Network, and the Indigenous Studies Student’s Union on March 22, 2017. Speakers included Bonnie Jane Maracle, Aboriginal Learning Strategist from First Nations House, Keren Rice, interim Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Initiatives and Professor of Linguistics, Jennifer Sylvester, student and President/Communications Coordinator of the Indigenous Studies Student’s Union.
In opening up the two hour panel, student Sarah Bear, said “In thinking about how we all can take action on the Truth and Reconciliation’s calls to actions, we asked our panelists to share their thoughts on one of the TRC’s calls to actions, which one has resonated with them the most and , why, how they have responded to the calls to action, and what recommendations would they have for Indigenous as well as non-Indigenous individuals to work on the call for actions as well as individuals from other communities.
Bonnie Maracle, a Mohawk from Tyendinaga Nation and the Aboriginal Learning Strategist at First Nations House says “I am an Aboriginal parent, an Aboriginal educator and an Aboriginal sole supporter, advocate and activist for Aboriginal education. This stemmed from being a parent, and stretched into my being an Aboriginal educator and my own education and the influence it has had in my educational journey and where I could work with that. The TRC call to action that resonated with me the most was the one with education, and the aspects of language and culture with that”
Maracle went onto say that “education within the call that commenced with the repeal of section 45 in the Criminal code of Canada which is known as the spanking law. So that was utmost and too within the education is the equity and funding for on reserve and off reserve students with which I experienced that with my son. The idea of post- secondary funding of the adequacy for post -secondary funding when the idea of sponsorship for education is part of our medicine chest, and having to argue that it is lacking is at that forefront. My response to this action as a Aboriginal educator in the language and culture is that I have probably been involved in this as an activist, way before the truth and reconciliation came about in that being a parent this was utmost in the raising of my kids for knowing who they are and where they come from and being able to be Mohawk children within the longhouse. My work has expanded for 25-30 years or more in these ideas. So much so that when my children were young, I worked at making sure that they were involved in language and culture programming. Participating in this later evolved into the making of other programs in Tyendinaga, like language nest programs etc.”
“I wholeheartedly support the TRC Call to Action Number 14 which says the federal government is responsible for providing funding Aboriginal language revitalization and preservation. The other two panelists echoed similar thoughts when it came to speaking about language and Aboriginal culture.
Each panelist spoke for about fifteen minutes and the panel was followed by a brief question and answer period and a group discussion along with catering by Nish Dish.